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In his book, The Preaching Event, John Claypool tells a poignant story about identical twin brothers who never married because they enjoyed each other’s company so much. When their father died, they took over his store and ran it together in a joyful collaboration.

But one day a man came in to make a small purchase and paid for it with a dollar. The brother who made the sale placed the dollar on top of the cash register...and walked the customer to the door to say goodbye. When he returned, the dollar bill was gone.

He said to his twin brother, "Did you take the dollar bill I left here?"

"No, I didn’t," answered the brother.

"Surely, you took it," he said, "There was nobody else in the store."

The brother became angry: "I’m telling you, I did not take the dollar bill."

From that point, mistrust and suspicion grew until finally the two brothers could not work together. They put a partition right down the middle of the building and made it into two stores. In anger, they refused to speak for the next 20 years.

One day a stranger pulled up in a car and entered one of the two stores. "Have you been in business very long here?" the stranger asked.

"Yes, 30 or 40 years," was the answer.

"Good," continued the stranger, "I very much need to tell you something... Some 20 years ago, I passed through this town. I was out of work and homeless. I jumped off a boxcar. I had no money and I had not eaten for days. I came down that alley outside and when I looked into your store window, I saw a dollar bill on the cash register. I slipped in and took it. Recently I became a Christian. I was converted and accepted Christ as my personal Savior. I know now it was wrong of me to steal that dollar bill...and I have come to pay you back with interest and to beg your forgiveness."

When the stranger finished his confession, the old storekeeper began to weep as he said, "Would you do me a favor? Would you please come next door and tell that story to my brother?" Of course, with the second telling, the two brothers were reconciled with many hugs and apologies and tears.

Twenty years of hurt and broken relationship based not on fact, but on mistrust and misunderstanding. But then healing came; reconciliation came, because of that stranger’s love for Christ.

(From a sermon by Otis McMillan, "Experiencing the Joy of Forgiveness" 1/13/2009)

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